Can you help?


(Previously the International Midwives’ Union or it might have been the International Union of Midwives)




The IMU started in Europe in the late 1910s/early 1920s. Under the leadership of Joyce Thompson the ICM has commissioned a history of the organisation to be written.

Unfortunately the early organisational documents were lost either in Ghent in 1939 or Berlin in 1942 (further work required to determine what was lost when). Please can you look through your great grannies’ papers/attics/basements for the IMU Communications 1 (published October 1925), 2 (published July 1926) or 3 (published June 1927).

Does anyone know of the whereabouts of the final version of the ICM history written for the 50th anniversary in 1972 but not published before 1975 by Marjorie Bayes? Do you know of any midwives, historians or archivists who might be able to help? We are searching the ICM archive in the Welcome Institute but so far it is not much help.

The countries involved in the start of the IMU were:  Belgium – both parts, Bulgaria, Czecho-Slovakia, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Moravia, Prussia, Silezia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Tcheco-Slovakia, The Netherlands, Yugoslavia.

We also know that midwives across Europe were talking to and visiting each other from the late 19th into the early 20th century. We know that midwives were inviting colleagues from across Europe to attend local and National meetings. For example we know that the Manchester and District Midwives’ Association gave Madame Bocquillet (founder and Secretary of the Syndicat General des Sages-femmes de France) Honorary membership in 1898, and that over 500 midwives met at the Berlin Midwives’ Association meeting in Berlin in 1900. Midwives from Denmark, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands attended this meeting. Do you know of any reports of these early meetings?

Can you put me in touch with midwives, historians or archivists who might be able to track down reports of these early meetings and/or publications so that we can map the midwifery interaction and thus the growth of the organisation.

Please spread this request around by any means and ask people to contact me. I apologise if you have already received this.


Ann M Thomson

Professor (Emerita) of Midwifery

University of Manchester